Lietuvos Rytas smashed Cibona 90-62
Lietuvos Rytas erupted on Wednesday in front of a soldout Siemens Arena to earn its first win of the season, 90–62 over Cibona Zagreb. The crowd loved every minute of the blowout, from L. Rytas’s hot shooting early to the return to the court of fan favorite Sarunas Jasikevicius, who came on for final minutes to mark his first game with the club in nearly a decade. Martynas Gecevicius scored 17 points for the Lithuanian champs, who enjoyed young prospect Jonas Valanciunas’s best European night with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks and also got 12 points from Brad Newley while dominating the paint throughout. Khalid El-Amin was key in orchestrating the offense, finishing with 15 points and 5 assists. For Cibona, Bojan Bogdanovic was the main offensive force with 19 points, while Goran Vrbanc added 15 and Rok Stipcevic scored 10. L. Rytas, who won the rebounding battle 41-21, will host Fenerbahce Ulker, while Cibona will look for its first win at home against Euroleague champion Regal FC Barcelona .
It was a must win game for both and the pressure was on high from tip-off, as nobody found the basket for the first two minutes. Pasalic broke the ice for the visitors and El-Amin countered with a triple for L. Rytas, who moved the ball well on their offensive sets and found good scoring position with Valanciunas down low. The young phenom produced another highlight reel worthy moment with a vicious block of a Bogdanovic shot and, with Cibona executing well on the pick-and-roll, the first timeout of the game was met with an even score of 7-7. The visitors tried to establish an inside presence with Leon Radosevic and Pasalic finding their spots, while L. Rytas started hitting from the perimeter, mainly with two triples in a row from Gecevicius that put them up 16-11. With Cibona feeling the heat in as close as a do or die game as you could encounter in Week 5, Rytas tightened the defense and fueled 7-13 run that El Amin capped off with a beautiful penetration layup that left his team ahead 23-12, entering the second quarter.
The hosts did not let up after the break, as Cemal Nalga set the tone with another stupendous block of a Bogdanovic dunk attempt and Bjelica hit a three pointer. Hoping to break the home team’s offensive rhythm, Cibona opted for a zone defense and was able to contain the onslaught some, with Bogadnovic scoring on a breakaway dunk and Vrbanc converting two consecutive attempts from beyond the arc to keep the distance at 30-21. But L. Rytas kept operating well in the halfcourt, with crisp movement off the ball and good patience by playmaker El-Amin. Nalga banged home a 32-23 advantage with a powerful dunk after a textbook setup. Cibona made a couple of strides off turnovers, but the Turkish center imposed his will in the paint with his varied arsenal of moves and scored on a layup to leave matters at 38-29.
Eyeing its first win of the regular season, L. Rytas pushed the pedal to the metal to start the third quarter, as Valenciunas opened things up with an emphatic dunk off a pretty Gecevicius assist. The youngster enjoyed his finest moments in Euroleague play, reaching his best scoring mark of 11 points with another block and dunk that capped an 18-4 run. The only answer for Cibona seemed to come from the hands of talented Bogdanovic, who drove incessantly to the basket trying to keep his team in the game, but L. Rytas was coming up big at both ends of the floor, finishing the period ahead by a wide margin, 61-38.
With newly acquired Jacikevicius cheering on from the sideline, the fourth quarter was smooth sailing for the home side, as El-Amin scored a triple to basically put the nail in the coffin at 76-40. With Cibona unable to stop the host’s inside dominance and excellent ball movement, head coach Aleksandar Trifunovic decided it was time to give the home fans an added reason to cheer, as Jacikevicius entered the game with 5:59 remaining. Radocevic still had time to better the offensive production for Cibona and added a spectacular alley-oop play, but L. Rytas never let up, finishing with a high intensity level and, ultimately, on top with plenty of reasons to smile for the first time this season.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010